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New Life at the Salida Sanitary District Sewage Treatment Plant

Sewage treatment turned into a wildlife sanctuary

If you follow the Golden State Highway through Central California, you will eventually make your way to the City of Salida. The Salida Sanitary District lies on the southern bank of the Stanislaus River, who’s meandering path defines the border of both the city and county. Viewed from above, this home of 13,000 people appears as a gray square in a greater mosaic of greens and browns. On the banks of the Stanislaus River lay three percolation ponds, which are the focus for this case study.

The District accommodates the wastewater needs of this community. Water is distributed through the city, collected from a variety of waste categories, and is then sent back to the District for treatment. The treated water is then dispelled as reclaimed water into the three percolation ponds. The now phosphorus-rich water encourages an aggressive bloom of algae and the proliferation of plants. Prior to 2017, these ponds were unwelcoming, even deadly, to animal life. Duckweed and Filamentous Algae covered 99% of the water’s surface up to two inches thick, and dissolved oxygen levels stayed at a dismal 1 mg/L.  The District was cited in violation of improper Biological Oxygen Level (BOD) and needed help.

In early 2017, DWI was brought on in partnership with Meras Water Solutions to provide remedial treatment for these three difficult ponds. DWI began by applying a combination of F-30 Algae Control and F-55 Biozyme, a comprehensive blend of enzymes, addressing the filamentous algae population, plus Reward, an aquatic herbicide for the duckweed. The F-30 quickly killed and sank the plants on the surface of the water, and the F-55 expedited the decomposition of organic material. While this treatment significantly reduced plant and algal biomass, it did not address the astonishingly low levels of dissolved oxygen. In response, a Vertex aeration system was installed in each of the ponds to provide artificial oxygenation.

It is well known that river otters are one of the best indicators of a healthy aquatic environment, and it just happens that the Stanislaus River is home to an otter population. Not only were The District, DWI and MWS happy, but the wildlife was as well! In a short period of time after treatment, the aeration equipment was installed, which brought the ponds to a healthy BOD level. The river otters decided that these ponds were now a great place to train their young in the arts of swimming and fishing.

With the newly elevated levels of dissolved oxygen present, local Vector Control introduced a small quantity of mosquitofish as a preventative measure. Today, the fish population is robust, so much so that Vector Control harvests excess fish from these ponds. Turtles, waterfowl, and other species have followed in the steps of the otters, inhabiting the renewed ponds and making them a permanent home. The area has become a fish hatchery, which was the dream of the community for years.

The ponds at Salida Sanitary District are a testament to Diversified Waterscapes’ ability to restore even the most dismal bodies of water. With 45 years of experience, DWI also knows how to create a thriving ecosystem where there was none before. 

Percolation pond, post-treatment
Water for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Water for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

There is no question that water is essential to California. With a state with a gorgeous ecosystem ranging from the highest snowcapped mountains to the grand Pacific Ocean, water is one of the top resources of the state. In today’s day and age, due to overcoming a 4-year drought, it may seem like water is California’s new gold. In 2019, Water usage in California is divided up by 50% for environmental use, 40% for agricultural use, and 10% for urban use. This could change depending on if the year was wet, dry, or regular. On a wet year such as 2005, distribution usually increases for environmental usage, while agriculture and urban decrease. While during a dry year like 2016, to continue to make agricultural production a priority, agriculture increases to approximately 61% (Mount & Hanak, 2019). You may wonder, “why does agriculture get such a large portion in California?”

 California is responsible for producing 90% of the United States’ fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The state is the number one agricultural producer in the United States and the fifth largest producer in the world (Ruggelio 2019). With over 400 different commodities to grow, irrigation is a necessity. According to the 2017 crop year reports for California, the top 10 commodities of the state are dairy products, grapes, almonds, strawberries, cattle, lettuce, walnuts, tomatoes, pistachios, and broilers (CDFA 2018).

 For the most part, California produces your breakfast, lunch, and dinner! With so many crops to produce, water is essential. In today’s climate, water is unpredictable. This is why many crop industries have changed their irrigation practices to be more efficient. Many have converted their systems to smart irrigation systems such as micro-irrigation to conserve water to be able to produce food in efficient and effective ways. Look at the almond industry, for example. In the last 20 years, the almond industry has reduced their intake of water by 80% and continues to pledge to reduce how much water it takes to grow a pound of almonds by 20% by 2025 (Wahlbrink 2019). The California farmer is passionate about sustainable irrigation practices to provide quality nutrious foods for consumers and values his share of Califonia water.

Sources:

California Department of Food and Agriculture. “California Agricultural Production Statistics.” CDFA, 2018, www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/.

Mount, J., & Hanak, E. (2019, May). Water Use in California. Retrieved from Public Policy of California: https://www.ppic.org/publication/water-use-in-california/

Ruggelio, Angela. “California Agriculture Production Ranks in Top 10 Worldwide.” The Aggie, 3 Apr. 2008, theaggie.org/2008/04/03/california-agriculture-production-ranks-in-top-10-worldwide/.

Wahlbrink, Brian. “Water Management Is a Complex Issue in California. But We Need to Tackle It Together.” California Almonds , California Almond Board, 5 July 2019, www.almonds.com/blog/water-management-complex-issue-california-need-tackle-together.

Pistachios

Pistachios

Pistachio orchard in the Central Valley California

The Pistachio was introduced to the US in 1854, and California in 1881. In 1929 an American botanist by the name of William E. Whitehouse went on a trip to Persia, collecting 20 pounds of pistachio nuts. Planting the nuts in test plots, Whitehouse named the tree that was showing good promise “Kerman” after the famous carpet-making city near Rafsanjan, Iran. Whitehouse and other scientists perfected the Kerman tree by budding it to heartier rootstocks. So on, the first commercial crop of 1.5 million pounds of Kerman pistachios was harvested in 1976. Kerman remains the top variety produced in California. The average yield of pounds per acre back in 1979 was only 930 pounds per acre. In 2018 that amount has grown to 3,736 pounds per acre. In the same year, the state of California produced approximately 986.7 million pounds of pistachio nuts.

With such large yields coming from the state, it is not a surprise that California produces 98% of pistachios consumed in the United States, and a quarter of the world’s consumption of the green nuts. 96% of that production comes out of the southern San Joaquin Valley in mainly Kern, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare counties. 42% of the California Pistachio production is located in Kern County.

                As pistachios remain such a popular snack all around the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 65% of California pistachios are exported! The United States is the top exporter of pistachios in the world with 1.5 Billion dollars’ worth of exported pistachios. Other top exporters include Iran ($551M), Hong Kong ($303M), and Germany ($122M). Hong Kong is also the top importer of pistachios, importing approximately 735 million dollars of pistachios into the region. Other top importers include Germany ($348M), China ($222M), and Vietnam ($190M).

                Whether it’s the health benefits or the creative advertisements, pistachios have made a statement in today’s society. Though California producers go through hardships, they continue to work intensely to provide pistachios for the rest of the world.

Insights into Clean Chemistry

Insights into Clean Chemistry

Sara Coble – 2019

In both the agricultural and industrial industries, chlorine is one of the most popular sanitizers for water. Chlorine is a tough product and is the go-to product for certain plugging challenges in your irrigation system.  Even your reservoir will show marked improvement for algae control when using this product.   Although, studies have shown that the accumulation of chlorine in irrigation water may lead to some damage in plant roots. Chlorination can restrain the conversion process and accumulation process of soil nitrogen. When using chlorine for sanitization; it can accumulate salt ions that can result in uneven nutrient distribution.

In water treatment, oxidizing agents are needed to change the structures of organic matter such as peat, algae, bacteria, plant debris, and pathogens that can negatively affect your crop. These agents are also needed to prevent plugging in micro-irrigation that can affect your water distribution to your crop. Though chlorine is known as a top disinfectant, there are some substitutions that may be more sustainable and healthier for crops in irrigation use. Two of which are peracetic acid (PAA) and chlorine dioxide (ClO2). These products are best utilized in maintenance programs.

Why Use Peracetic Acid?

According to Water Online, PAA is a clear, colorless liquid comprised of peroxide and acetic acid. It does not affect effluent toxicity. Therefore it does not need to be removed as chlorine does. Its use does not result in toxic residuals, mutagenic, or carcinogenic compounds after disinfection. PAA is an ideal antimicrobial agent due to its high oxidizing potential.  PAA is hardly affected by organic compounds, which leaves most of the chemicals available to fight off contaminants. PAA is broadly effective against microorganisms and not deactivated by catalase and peroxidase.  PAA is very efficient due to its quick contact time. After 20 minutes, with a dosage of 5mg/L, PAA can reduce fecal and total coliforms by 99.9%. PAA is most useful at lower concentrations because of its high oxidative capacities. Not only is it sufficient in reducing contaminants and microorganisms that affect agricultural water, but it is also practical in eliminating bacteria that cause legionella in plumbing. PAA is used in many sanitation practices, read more about the benefits and results of using PAA for disinfection here:

Sources for PAA:

Ditommaso, Savina, et al. “Peracetic Acid in the Disinfection of a Hospital Water System Contaminated With Legionella Species.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, vol. 26, no. 5, 2005, pp. 490–493., doi:10.1086/502573.

Lubello, Claudio, et al. “Municipal-Treated Wastewater Reuse for Plant Nurseries Irrigation.” Water Research, vol. 38, no. 12, 2004, pp. 2939–2947., doi:10.1016/j.watres.2004.03.037.

Martin, Laura. “EPA Investigates Chlorine Alternative.” Www.wateronline.com, 19 Nov. 2014, www.wateronline.com/doc/epa-investigates-peracetic-acid-as-a-green-alternative-to-chlorine-0001.

“Peracetic Acid.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Peracetic-acid.

“Peroxyacetic Acid.” UC Davis Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis, wineserver.ucdavis.edu/industry-info/enology/methods-and-techniques/common-chemical-reagents/peroxyacetic-acid.

Pfuntner, Allan. “Sanitizers and Disinfectants: The Chemicals of Prevention.” Food Safety Magazine, Aug. 2011, www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/augustseptember-2011/sanitizers-and-disinfectants-the-chemicals-of-prevention/.

Why Use Chlorine Dioxide?

Though chlorine is in the name of chlorine dioxide, there is a significant difference between the two chemistries. Chlorine Dioxide is a yellow-green gas that is produced by a reduction of sodium chlorate and an agent such as hydrochloric acid. Chlorine dioxide is the only biocide that is a molecular free radical. It has 19 electrons and tends to gravitate towards substances that give off or take up an electron. Chlorine dioxide only responds to substances that give off electrons. When used in water treatment, chlorine dioxide inactivates biofilm; this activity is what produces chlorite ions. Chlorite ions continue to feed off the biofilm even when the chlorine dioxide is no longer there. Compared to chlorine, chlorine dioxide is much more efficient over a wider range of pH levels. Much like PAA, chlorine dioxide is also barely affected by organic compounds allowing more protection against pathogens and other microbial bacteria.

Here is a link to a study done in collaboration between UC Davis and the University of Murcia where chlorine dioxide was tested as an alternative to chlorine as a disinfectant for irrigation water for baby spinach: 

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0199291

Chlorine has proven itself as a product to use on tough issues and initial remediation, there are other products that may be able to help and have a less negative impact on your crop in the long run. 

Sources for Chlorine Dioxide:

“Chlorine Dioxide.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Chlorine-dioxide.

“Disinfectants: Chlorine Dioxide.” Lenntech Water Treatment & Purification, www.lenntech.com/processes/disinfection/chemical/disinfectants-chlorine-dioxide.htm.

Truchado, Pilar, et al. “Impact of Chlorine Dioxide Disinfection of Irrigation Water on the Epiphytic Bacterial Community of Baby Spinach and Underlying Soil.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, 18 July 2018, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0199291.

Zheng, Youbin, et al. “Chlorine Dioxide.” Greenhouse and Nursery Water Treatment Information System, University of Guelph, www.ces.uoguelph.ca/water/PATHOGEN/ChlorineDioxide.pdf.

“Chlorine Dioxide.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Chlorine-dioxide.

“Disinfectants: Chlorine Dioxide.” Lenntech Water Treatment & Purification, www.lenntech.com/processes/disinfection/chemical/disinfectants-chlorine-dioxide.htm.

Truchado, Pilar, et al. “Impact of Chlorine Dioxide Disinfection of Irrigation Water on the Epiphytic Bacterial Community of Baby Spinach and Underlying Soil.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, 18 July 2018, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0199291.

Public Library of Science, 18 July 2018, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0199291.

Zheng, Youbin, et al. “Chlorine Dioxide.” Greenhouse and Nursery Water Treatment Information System, University of Guelph, www.ces.uoguelph.ca/water/PATHOGEN/ChlorineDioxide.pdf.

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Winterization

Winterization

Winterization helps restore irrigation system efficiency by sanitation to prevent build-up and microbial growth while the system is not in use.  At Meras Water Solutions, we tailor each winterization program to your needs, depending on your water analysis, location, and symptoms.

Over time, mineral build-up and biofilm will lead to plugging or fouling, that can cause significant problems in your irrigation system. The winterization process is a single scrub maintenance application to rid irrigation plugging, while also maximizing the opportunity to restore irrigation system efficiency and distribution uniformity.

The winterization process is conducted during the last irrigations of the season after post-harvest fertilizers and nutrition are applied. Treated water flows through the irrigation system and cleans out the substances that have the potential to cause plugging and fouling. From the last irrigation of the previous season to the first irrigation of the next season, the treated water will remain in the irrigation line preventing the buildup of biofilm and other substances that may cause clogging. The contact time the treated water has in the irrigation system will ensure proper breakdown of potential foulants without causing harm to your system. The oxidizer used in a winterization process is broadly effective against microorganisms in breaking down to safe and inactive residues.

Before your next production season starts, a proper post winterization flush is required to evacuate the inactive mineral or residues, leaving a clean and sanitized irrigation system ready for the new season. A complete flush is comprised of three parts; filter back-flush, flushing main and sub-main lines, and flushing drip lines.

Filter Backflushing

Back-flushing your filters should be a regular activity as your filter’s performance depends on it.  Any accumulation of debris can reduce pressure and lower the water application rate (GPM) of your system. Flushing should release any accumulated particulate or organic matter and clear it from your system.

Flushing Main and Sub-Main Lines

The main, sub-main, and distribution lines in the system should be flushed in sequence. Each one of them should be flushed for at least two minutes or until the flushed water runs clear.

 Dripline Flushing

Dripline flushing will force evacuate the organic matter, mineral, or residues and will complete the winterization process. Flushing should be performed sequentially for a block in a single systematic flushing until the lines run clear.  Depending on your specific irrigation system, a good recommendation is to open up no more than 15 hose ends at a time to keep system pressures high enough to get a thorough flush.

Depending on your specific location and water source, It is recommended that an irrigation system flush should be performed periodically throughout the irrigation season to maintain proper uniformity.

Winterization will prepare you and your irrigation system for the future production seasons. For more information, contact An Ag Water Specialist from Meras Water Solutions to consult with you and go over any questions you may have about the winterization process. 

The State of The Almond Industry

The State of The Almond Industry

Almonds, its that time of year where everyone is shaking the “L” out of them. From Tehama County, all the way down the center of California to Kern County, California produces 100% of the United States’ almonds, while producing 80% of the worlds’ #1 superfood. With the start of harvest, I figured we could pay tribute to the tree nut and the effect it has had on the California economy.

In 2018, the almond industry hit a record in domestic shipments reaching 735 million pounds. The top producing counties, bearing the most almonds in 2017 were Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced, and Madera. These counties held 73% of California’s total bearing almond acreage. The almond industry in California provides 100,000 employment opportunities, 97,000 of them being in the central valley. As California is the leading producer of almonds in the world, Australia and the European Union are the leading foreign producers at 6 and 5 percent. With the majority of almonds being produced in California, in 2018, exports were made to more than 90 countries. Spain is the number one export market.

One thing that has always fascinated me about the California Almond industry is the commitment to sustainability. Majority of almond producers in California commit themselves to reduce the number of resources they use to produce their crop. Approximately 75% of Almond producers grow on 100 acres or less. Along with reducing land use, producers have made excellent strides in reducing water use as well. In the last 20 years, the industry has reduced how much water it takes to produce a pound of almonds by 33%. Almond producers have been able to achieve this through micro-irrigation and other water-saving technology practices. The Almond Board of California set a goal for producers to reduce the amount that it takes to produce one almond by 20% by the year 2025.

When it comes to the production of an almond, no part of the production goes to waste. The hull of the almond is used in many diets of species both big and small. Many livestock producers and insect farmers use the hulls as part of their feed for their stock. Shells are transformed into charcoal-like powders where they can be used in the production of recycled plastics. Even after production is over and the trees are ripped out, they are usually ground into small chips and diced into the soil to promote and improve organic matter in soil for future crops.

Adding $11 billion-dollar value to the California Gross State Product, almonds have made huge strides in the California economy. As healthier lifestyles are rising in popularity, the demand for almond production does as well. Thankfully, the industry continues to take actions in environmental responsibility and promotes it throughout the entire agriculture industry.

Sources:
“Almond Almanac Annual Report of 2018.” Almond Board of California, Almond Board of California, 2018, almonds.com.

Food Safety: A Responsibility for Everyone

Food Safety: A Responsibility for Everyone

According to a recent article in California Ag Today, farmers can expect food safety inspections to be in their future. The Produce Safety Program, under the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), is working to have farmers comply with both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDFA produce safety rules through inspections of farms. Large operations with annual sales greater than $500,000, will be the first of the 20,000 farms to be inspected according to the produce safety rule. Inspections will not be unforeseen, and will only be done through set appointments. The goal of the Produce Safety Program is to “educate than regulate,” meaning both the FDA and CDFA want to inform producers about the legal compliances within food safety, then take action and implement them within the operations.

On September 10th, 2019 the FDA announced a cooperative agreement with the National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) toward the produce safety rule. This agreement is said, “to provide critical information and resources to help state and territorial regulatory agencies plan and help carry out the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.” The agreement will provide funding that will allow NASDA to help state and territorial produce safety regulatory programs to encourage safe production of crops, understand the Produce Safety Rule, and how to comply with the requirements of the rule. The overall goal of the 5-year cooperative agreement is to develop a nationally integrated food safety system, by ensuring consistency of produce safety programs with the Produce Safety Rule.

To help implement the compliances, NASDA will also host a National Consortium meeting including all state and territorial agencies to assist in their understanding of the new produce safety rule. The meeting will provide program updates, share the best practices, and the opportunity for feedback to the FDA for enhancements and program adjustments. Along with the National Consortium, NASDA will work closely with the FDA to prepare and implement the On-Farm Readiness Review system and develop national produce safety regulatory program that promotes a stable foundation of produce safety.

From the consumer to the producer, and the retailer to the government officials, everyone is a stakeholder in the mission to achieve proficient food safety. There is a common goal to prevent the outbreak of viruses caused by pathogens rather than suffer from the consequences. The consumer is responsible for washing their produce to provide safe and healthy food for their family and themselves. The retailer and processors are responsible for making sure produce is kept in a clean area and packaged for the safety of consumers. The government officials make sure all parts of the process are held at safe and healthy standards for all. The farmer is the very base of the triangle, whereas if it’s not clean produce from the beginning, it may cause a domino effect throughout the whole process. Attaining food safety is a team effort through the entire agriculture community. 

Van Groningen and Sons

In 2017, Van Groningen & Sons had a block of almonds where approximately 30% of the emitters were mostly or completely plugged due to biofouling. After conducting a dual-product remediation, the Distribution Uniformity test revealed an astonishing improvement!

Bryan Van Groningen, VP of Crops and Soil

Van Groningen and Sons

Salida Sanitary

In 2015, the ponds were covered with a blanket of Duckweed one to two inches thick…we met with Meras Water Solutions to develop a remediation plan…within a few months, the Duckweed was gone and the critical levels of oxygen in the ponds was improved.

Mike Gilton, District Manager
Salida Sanitary

Meras Water Solutions is the water treatment solution for you.